As we head into the winter months and spend more time indoors, it’s vital to get up to date on the seasonal flu vaccine, as well as COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. We’ve pulled together the latest information from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), so you know where, when, and how to get the protection you need to stay healthy.
Before COVID-19, seasonal flu vaccination was the most important annual vaccination for most of us to get. According to the U.S. CDC, flu vaccination prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related provider visits each year. The CDC estimates that from 2019-2020, the flu vaccination prevented 7.5 million influenza illnesses, 3.7 million influenza-associated medical visits, 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 6,300 influenza-associated deaths.
The U.S. and Maine CDCs recommend that people six months and older get an annual flu vaccine as early in the fall as possible. If you haven’t already done so, call your primary care provider (PCP) or your local pharmacy to schedule your flu vaccination today. The good news is that Health Options makes the flu vaccine available at $0 cost-share to Members, and you can receive a flu shot at the same time as a COVID-19 shot if you still need one.
Also, COVID-19 boosters are available to everyone aged 18 and older – just in time for holiday gatherings. The latest (CDC) booster recommendations are:
You can get your booster shot anywhere that provides the COVID-19 vaccine. You may hear directly from your healthcare provider about getting a booster, or you may contact the locations linked below for an appointment. Many locations also offer drop-in vaccinations with no appointment necessary.
For a final piece of vaccination news, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now widely available for individuals aged 5 and older throughout Maine. As the Delta variant continues to be a prominent strain, vaccination is the safest way to protect against severe illness in children and adults.
It’s also important to continue protecting unvaccinated children ages two and older, who should wear a mask in public spaces and around people with whom they do not live.
If you need help scheduling an appointment, or want to know if a site near you offers vaccinations without an appointment, call the Maine COVID-19 Community Vaccination Line at (888) 445-4111. You may also search for COVID-19 vaccine availability here: Maine vaccination sites.
Your health, well-being, and safety are our priorities. Please call our Member Services at (855) 624-6463 for more information about vaccines and other preventive care benefits.
The year ahead comes with a few changes to Health Options’ health insurance plans – and it’s all good news. One change we are excited to announce is a new tiered provider network option available in select individual/family Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans. While tiered plans may be new to Health Options, they are not new to health insurance. In fact, they are a proven way to save money on medical expenses. Read on to learn what tiering means to insurance plans and what it means to you as a health insurance consumer.
Tiered provider networks are a way to better manage the costs of healthcare services. They also provide health insurance consumers a better way to consider the cost of care when choosing their care options. Plans featuring tiered provider networks generally combine quality and cost in developing a preferred tier. Providers with high-quality outcomes and lower contracted prices are typically placed in the most preferred tier rankings.
As a consumer, you may wonder how Health Options decides which providers are considered part of our preferred tier. It is important to note, that all providers meet our quality standards, which is why they are part of the Health Options network. For tiered providers, we review claims history to analyze the quality of provider outcomes combined with their contracted cost and efficiency. Providers and facilities that meet or exceed our standards for quality, cost, and efficiency are “preferred,” and others are “standard.”
To take advantage of tiered providers, you will need to select an individual/family plan with a tiered network option, which is available in both bronze and silver metal level plans for 2022. It’s important to note, that on a tiered plan, you always have the option to visit standard providers with a standard co-pay.
As we enter the Open Enrollment season for 2022, we are proud to offer the highest quality healthcare at the best possible value with all our plans, and our new tiered network offers additional savings. If you have questions about tiered network plans and want help finding the health insurance plan that best suits your needs, contact our Member Services team at (855) 624-6463.